Ted Ross - Escape from Hong Kong


HERO RosetteAdmiral Chan Chak in Kukong   
  Click here to read more ©Ted Ross & escape party at Waichow, Photos from the Chan Chak & Collingwood collections © Admiral Chan Chak and party arriving in Waichow   
  Click here to
  Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©HERO stamp




Charles Edwin [Ted] Ross, Ministry of Information (MoI) Hong Kong

1912 - 2005

Ted Ross a former purser with Canadian Pacific Steamships Ltd and later based in their office on the 1st floor of the Bund 27 building in Shanghai. Ted volunteered as a Red Cross ambulance driver when the Japanese attacked in 1937. Ted was a keen sportsman and rowed successfully for the Shanghai rowing club, as did Sub-Lt Legge HKRNVR. Ted was posted to Hong Kong after four years in Shanghai where David MacDougall recruited him as his assistant in the "Ministry of Information".

During the battle for Hong Kong Ted and his boss David MacDougall were fully employed countering the Japanese propaganda within the Colony.

Ted Ross MoI : "There were an estimated million and a half Chinese (civil population) on the Island, in addition to approximately twenty-five thousand Europeans, mostly British. Our job was to keep them informed of the military position. To that end we had to see to it, as far as possible, that all English and Chinese newspapers kept publishing.
We made three trips a day up to Battle Headquarters for official communiqués. These were passed to the Press, in addition to a multitude of notices that were required to be promulgated as necessity arose. These notices covered everything from warnings not to drink water unless it was boiled first, to appeals for warm clothing for Kowloon evacuees; and from instructions covering air raid precautions to appeals to the populace to remain calm and not to listen to rumours and scaremongering."

The escape launch from the scuttled HMS CornflowerThe Ministry of Information (MoI) was set up to maintain public morale through the use of publicity and propaganda via the media. Home intelligence was a department within the MoI used to observe and monitor the public mood, gathering intelligence from the likes of shop keepers, publicans, clergymen, shop stewards, as well as G.Ps, letter opening and phone tapping. The MoI also produced propaganda films for public showing.


Left: The launch from HMS Cornflower used for the escape from Aberdeen.

From Shaoguan (Kukong) members of the Aberdeen Island escape party were flown to Chungking for debriefing. The arrival of Cmdr Hugh Montague RN (Rtrd), Police Supt Bill Robinson of the Indian Police Intelligence unit, Captain Peter Macmillan, Captain Reginald (Freddie) Guest, Sq-Ldr Max Oxford, all staff officers of HKBHQ, David MacDougall, and Edwin (Ted) Ross both of the Ministry of Information arrival in the early hours made the British national and regional press the same day 15th January 1942.

Ted supplied a detailed account of the events in Hong Kong and subsequent escape.


Ted Ross dived overboard as Admiral Chan Chak calmly took to the waves 
	Photo from Maj Goring's  article on the escape © 
	Click here for more information




Ted Ross MOI: "Well, we hadn't gone much more than five or six hundred yards when we were spotted from the shore and the Jap's let fly at us with everything they had, rifles, machine guns and small shells.
Several of our chaps were hit, and soon a shot put the engine out of commission, that capped it.
The machine gun bullets kept tearing in. Mac got one right in his tin hat, another cut through the sole of his shoe, and just as he was saying how close they were coming he got one right in the back.
" [28]

Left: Picture from Maj Goring's daring-do article on the escape published in 1949. [17]

Adm Chan Chak: "The Danish steer man was the first one shot, then the engineer. MacDougall and others were wounded. Most of the stray bullets had hit the boat and even some had hit my helmet.
Hsu was very wary about me the “One Foot Admiral of 50” swimming such a far distance.
I insisted to carry my own gun and passport. Yeung could not swim and he suggested that we should go back to Hong Kong. “Going back means surrender. I would rather die!” I said.
I took off my life preserver (which was the last one on board) and gave it to Yeung. As I raised my hand, a stray bullet went right through my left hand.
Yeung didn’t say anything anymore, he just jumped into the sea, followed by MacDougall with his wounded back.
YeeSiu-Kee and 2 other British soldiers had to remain on the boat. Yee could not swim and the 2 soldiers were badly wounded.
We were all sitting ducks in the water and non-stop bullets were flying everywhere.
I finally swam ashore on the small island right next to Apliechau."

Along with S.K. were two severely wounded volunteer crew left in the boat, the tall forty seven year old Jutlander, Alec (Alexis) Damsgaard, late Master of the C.S. Store Nordiske, & Sub-Lt J. J. Forster HKRNVR from Northern Ireland. After drifting all night S.K. bribed a junk man to take the two wounded to a hospital.

S.K. Yee: "I put the two others on a junk, asking the fishermen to take them to a hospital on the mainland (Hong Kong).
I was kept some days at Pak Sha wan and subsequently I had to return to the church at Apliechau, which was under the Reverend Cheng. I took shelter at the church for some days before making my final escape to Free China."

Of the sixteen who set out on board the launch of "HMS Cornflower" (II), two were killed, one taken prisoner, another made good his own escape while the remaining twelve made it to the MTB's.

S.K, wearing Hsu Heng (Henry)'s shoes and clutching his bible, sought refuge with the Reverend Cheng in the Harbour Mission Church on Ap Lei Pai opposite Aberdeen. He eventually made his way to Kukong in free China where Chan Chak was still recovering. SK arrived on 5th February 1942 still wearing Hsu Heng (Henry)'s shoes, only to leave two days later as mysteriously as he had arrived after falling out with Chan over the allegedly missing $40.000 (£2,500 GBP) They remained bitter opponents for the rest of Chan's life.


Admiral Chan Chak & escape party at Waichow 30th Dec 1941
    Run the curser over to identify individuals.
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Supt Bill Robinson
    Click here to read more on Bill Robinson
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Captain Peter Macmillan RA
    Click here to read more on Peter Macmillan

Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Captain Reginold [Freddie] Guest 1st Middlesex
    Click here to read more on Freddie Guest
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Coxswain Yeung Chuen ROC
    Click here to read more on Yeung Chuen 
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Ted Ross, MoI, Colonial Service
    Click here to read more on Rossy
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © David MacDougall, MoI, Colonial Service
    Click here to read more on David MacDougall
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Admiral Chan Chak ROC
    Click here to read more on Admiral Chan Chak
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Major Arthur Goring, Probyns Horse
    Click here to read more on Major Goring
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Sqd-Ldr Max Oxford, RAF
    Click here to read more on Max Oxford
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Holger Christensen, Midshipman
    Click here to read more on Holger Christensen
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Lt-Cmdr Hsu Heng (Henry) ROC
    Click here to read more on Henry Hsu
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection ©



Back row: Supt. Bill Robinson, W. O. William M Wright HKRNVR, Capt. Peter Macmillan R. A., Capt. Reginald Guest 1st Mdsx, Coxswain Yeung Chuen ROC, Ted Ross MoI>

2nd row: David MacDougall MoI, Adm Chan Chak ROC, Major Arthur Goring Probyns Horse, Sq-Ldr. Max Oxford RAF

1st row: Cadet Holger Christensen, Lt-Cmd Hsu Heng (Henry) ROC.

Photo from Chan Chak collection©



The four who were wounded, killed, captured or escaped seperately

Alexis DamsgaardJJ ForsterDouglas HarleySK Yee

Alexis Damsgaard wounded POW. JJ Forster died of wounds. D Harley wounded/drowned. SK Yee escaped seperately




Ted Ross in Kukong 6th Jan 1942  
    Click here to return to the Waichow group photo  
    Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©

Arriving in Shaoguan (Kukong) on 6th January 1942 where the local Girl Guides pinned HERO rosettes to our lapels.

Photo from Adm Chan Chak's collection ©

Ted retired to Australia in the 1970's to farm cattle, survived by his son Warwick Ross who is a vigneron at the "Portsea Estate"

Ted Ross kept a detailed diary and audio recordings covering the escape from Hong Kong. He also had an article published in a Canadian magazine, Macleans titled "Escape from Hong Kong" on 15th June, 1st & 15th July 1942

Members of the Christmas Day escape who returned to help rebuild the Colonony of Hong Kong after its return to British control in 1945 included

  • David MacDougall Returned on 7th September 1945 as Brigadier Colonial Secretary with the Military Administration. Mac took early retirement in 1949 to take up farming in Suffolk, East Anglia, UK.
  • Ted Ross Returned briefly with the British Military Mission before going on to Japan in 1946 where he worked closely with Douglas MacArther's administration. Ted returned to Hong Kong in 1951 following a year long round the world honeymoon with his bride, staying untill 1965.
  • S K Yee Returned with the British Military Mission before going into banking then forming the S.K. Yee Medical Foundation
  • Lt-Cmd Henry Hsu ROC Returned after retiring as Vice Admiral ROC, in business then became an international hotelier based in Hong Kong
  • Colonel Harry Owen-Hughes Returned to work in D M MacDougall's administration & as Commandant of the post war HKVDC
  • Lt Arthur Pittendrigh Returned to HK in 1945 to command the Maritime Police Service with the rank of Colonel.
  • Lt Tommy Parsons Returned to Jardine Matheson's
  • Sub-Lt Arthur Gee Returned as night editor of The China Mail
  • Sq-Ldr Max Oxford RAF Returned in mid October 1945 as Deputy Director of Kai Tak International Airport
  • F W (Mike) Kendall Returned working for the Philippines Airline and was based in both HK and Manila
  • Monia (John) Talan Returned to run a travel business before going into laundry.
  • Colin McEwan Returned as Director of physical education
  • Guerrilla leader Leung Wingyuen was appointed as Colonel Advisor in the Chan Chak administration in Canton. [6]
  • Admiral Chan Chak was appointed to be the first post-war Mayor of neighbouring Canton on 1st April1945. The following year he resigned to become the first post war C-in-C South China Navy. [6] [85]

The SOE escape team

Mike Kendall

Colin McEwan

[John] Monia Talan

Ted Ross in Shanghai 1937 
	Photo from the Ross fammily @copy



Ted was a keen sportsman, rowing for the Shanghai rowing club, as did fellow escapee Sub-Lt Legge HKRNVR. They were both in teams that beat the Germans in their seperate dicaplins in 1936/37.

Photo from the Ross family @copy

Ted's son Warwick discussing his film project.



Ted passed away in 2005 aged 93





Research and web publication by Buddy Hide Jnr ©

The contents of this web site led to a considerable number of escapee families contacting me and now each other, and remains the principle source of contact and private information for the spin off projects that have followed. The personal accounts enabled me to record the complete and true account of this remarkable episode of Sino-British war time co-operation. The information compiled here has directly resulted in a museum exhibition in Hong Kong, a re-enactment of the escape in Hong Kong and China, with a movie drama and documentary in the making.

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